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Seeing Sounds

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Album Review

Singers and rappers looking for hits don't go to Pharrell Williams for power pop pumped full of steroids, elaborately arranged baroque pop, mosh-inducing guitar assaults, songs about women doing coke in bathrooms, or philosophical ruminations. Williams, along with fellow Neptune Chad Hugo and longtime associate Shay continue to use N.E.R.D. as an outlet for all the stray ideas that leave sales and airplay considerations in the dust. But it's not as if what they have produced as a trio has been inaccessible, and that goes for their third album, Seeing Sounds, as well. In Search Of... went gold, despite being re-recorded into an inferior band-driven version of the synth-and-drum-machine-heavy original (released outside the U.S. in 2001), while the ambitious and occasionally downright bizarre Fly or Die apparently moved roughly 100,000 fewer units. Those numbers aren't bad, but it was apparent that the average Neptunes fan was thrown (or merely not won over) by the stylistic shifts and seemingly out of character lyrical concepts. Seeing Sounds nonetheless goes down the same route as the previous N.E.R.D. album, and there aren't any crossover feature spots, à la the Madden brothers on "Jump," to push it. The only other changes are that Williams gets three quarters of the songwriting credits alone, whereas Fly or Die was Hugo/Williams all the way, and Shay is put to a little more use. Once again, it is evident that they put all of themselves into the material, from the left of center concepts to arrangements with unpredictable shifts. The piano-led "Sooner or Later" switches back and forth from verses akin to David Bowie's "Changes" and a crashing chorus that is nearly bombastic, incorporating a needling guitar solo, while "Love Bomb" is similarly ambitious, using a similar build and release setup while sounding much different. Despite all the weight, those songs still have a way of seeming as easy and carefree as the moments when N.E.R.D. are simply bashing away (sometimes over agitated drum'n'bass), blowing off steam, and talking ridiculous nonsense. Whether taken as a diversion of throwaway fun or a deeper (or peculiar) look into what makes these men tick, the album succeeds.

Customer Reviews

Easy listening whilst being something different

Intro/Time for Some Action = N/A (as a standalone song it's fairly annoying/boring but it's an elongated intro so not going to focus too much on it) Everyone Nose = 10/10 (the lead single, fun & catchy, reminds me of "Peanut Jelly Time!", one of the instantly likeable tracks on the album) Windows = 8/10 (catchy, some of the better lyrics on the album, possible single?) Anti Matter = 10/10 (perhaps my favourite track on the album after a few listens, great hook!) Spaz = 9/10 (used in a Zune advert in the US of A so that shows it's potential, can imagine it being a hit when performed live) Yeah You = 7/10 (a smoother jazzy song that has it's appeal but seems a little average) Sooner or Later = 8/10 (this would get a 9 if it wasn't so repetitive! a great song that just drags a little, seems much more personal and the slowed beat is a nice suprise after the first few songs) Happy = 5/10 (meh) Kill Joy = 6/10 (seems a little too 'easy', nothing particuarly special and the lyrics just fall apart near the end) Love Bomb = 7/10 (back to a better track, slower, thoughtful and optimistic, easy listening) You Know What = 6/10 (alright but nothing that jumps out, easy listening again that seems a little filler) Laugh About It = 7/10 (was expecting something much bigger for the last track but this is not bad, just a mellow ending to the album...) Everyone Nose Remix = 8/10 (different to the original, features Kanye & Lupe (members of CRS with Pharrell), alot darker, prefer the other one tbh but it's got nice production) I bought this album after previewing a few of the songs elsewhere and listened to it fully without the bias of wanting them to succeed in their supposedly niche mission to experiment with rock/hiphop/electro/rap or whatever. As you can see from the scores, I think it's a fairly decent album. Some of the songs are a little hit and miss with Pharrells lyrics sometimes seeming a little artifical but overall this is an enjoyable album with some great beats that you can listen to start to finish without skipping (which is definately saying something!). Perhaps if some songs were put into the hands of a better writer they could be even more catchy but what's here is definately satisfactory and a buy for anyone looking for something different.

Experimental Hip Rock at its best..

Another good album by n.e.r.d., would of given it 5* but certain tracks spoil it abit, but none the less definatly worthy of buying. Best tracks for me have to be love bomb, sooner or later and you know what, they are awesome...check em' out..

Fantastic!

I've been a fan of N*E*R*D from the beginning, back when In search of...dropped. I didn't think they could top lapdance or she wants to move, but Spaz is an ace tune, other songs that stand out are, the early released Everyone nose, yeah you and windows. If you are a fan of N*E*R*D and like the eclectic sounds they bring, you won't be disappointed. I feel this is possibly the best album they have done. New sounds and a great summer album.

Biography

Formed: Virginia

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '00s, '10s

The acronym N.E.R.D. stands for "No One Ever Really Dies," but childhood friends Chad Hugo, Pharrell Williams, and Shay most certainly used the group to proudly emphasize the nerdier aspects of their musical personalities. Before this side project took shape, Hugo and Williams -- as the Neptunes -- had established themselves as giants in the field of pop production, whether they were working with hardcore rappers, smooth crooners, or teen pop groups. Although their faces were known to many due to...
Full bio

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